It also runs the Free Radio Live popular music event every year at the Genting Arena in Birmingham, which has featured artists such as Ed Sheeran, Olly Murs and The Vamps.The group has grown rapidly in recent years thanks to continued investment in its brands and content. This has helped it capture a growing share of the market, with a weekly audience of more than 1.25m people.
Orion Media operates eight stations under the Free Radio and Gem brands.
In June 2009 LDC supported the management buyout of eight Midlands Radio licences from Global Radio for an undisclosed sum. A new group was formed under the name of Orion Media.
The sale is a result of the OFT’s ruling following the acquisition of GCap Media by Global Radio in 2008.
In 2011 Orion's East Midlands station Heart 106 was rebranded and relaunched as Gem 106, following the end of a franchise agreement with Global Radio allowing the station to use the Heart branding and carry networked programming from London.
In 2012 Orion Media announced that its four FM stations in the West Midlands region were to be renamed 'Free Radio' - replacing the individual names BRMB, Mercia, Wyvern and Beacon.
In 2016 LDC exited its investment in Orion Media in a sale to Bauer Media. In the UK, Bauer Media now has 71 radio stations, including national radio brands KISS, Magic and Absolute. Local brands forming the Bauer City Network include Key 103 in Manchester, Radio City in Liverpool, Hallam FM in Sheffield and Metro Radio in Newcastle.
The acquisition complements and builds on Bauer Media Group’s existing portfolio, giving it a 34 per cent share of commercial radio listening and an audience of 17.4m, and strengthens its unique offer to advertisers and commercial partners.
The sale price, which is undisclosed, represents a money multiple of 2.3x for LDC.